Monday, January 30, 2006

Gearing Up for Week 3!

As I promised the "advanced group" in the lunchtime knitting class, I'm introducing our class project this week. I've been knitting bits and pieces all weekend and hope that the kids will find the magic of felting as interesting as I do!

The basic premise is that this:

Plus this:

Equals this:

(Ignore the rather poor finishing. I was racing the clock last night, felting at a furious rate and I didn't have much time to stretch and block the finished object to more elegant proportions. That said, I'm just trying to demonstrate some of the properties of felted objects: the sturdiness of the fabric and the fact that it can be cut without ravelling.

Here is another before and after sample:

I'm going to let the kids acquire their own needles for this project. I was willing to purchase a boat-load of the starter needes and lend them out to the class, figuring that I'll reuse them if I offer the class next year, but I really don't want to invest $$ in a pile of fat needles. (The local "big box" store offers suitable needles for less than $3 Canadian, so it shouldn't prove to be a barrier to any of the students.)

On the other hand, feltable yarn is tough to find in junior department stores and I do have a large supply of leftovers from various projects, so I will supply that for the class. I'm planning to let the kids rummage through the bits and pieces in my "feltable yarn" box and use any combination of colours they find pleasing. The nice thing about felted projects is that you can just change colours by tying knots! The pencil case I made as a demo item weighs 65 grams, so I'll bring in the kitchen scale next week and set everyone up with 75 grams of whatever!

BTW, my hired-gun is nursing a cold and a sick pup today, so we'll be short staffed. Your continued positive knitting thoughts would be appreciated!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Knitting Class - Week 2!

In the midst of all the election hullaballoo...isn't it refreshing to do something that really matters...teaching a new generation to knit!

Once again, I showed up at my daughter's grade school to show a group of Grade 3 and 4 students how to do the garter stitch. After the flurry of not-always-productive activity last week, my initial enthusiasm was tempered today.

But, it wasn't awful at all!! Just about everyone had remembered to bring their knitting supplies today, so set-up was much easier than the first week, and it appears that mums, grandmas and classmates have stepped up to continue the tutoring at home! Either that, or some of these kids are just SERIOUS quick learners!

As promised, a few photos of the kids in action. Ignore the disguises, these kids aren't all part of the witness protection program, I just didn't want to post any child's picture without parental consent!

I promised Miss D, next week, we learn how to CAST OFF!!!

You can't really appreciate it in the small photo, but Miss A's tension is very, VERY even. Lovely work!

Oh and a special note for Maggie, would you believe that Miss B's MACEDONIAN grandmother helped her at home this week!

Maggie, of Click-Clack and more importantly, the local Stitchsky and Bitchsky, has an unusual tensioning technique involving her neck. She swears that it's all the rage in Macedonia.) Not pictured, Mrs. M, my youngest daughter's teacher who is also of Macedonian extraction and who practices "neck tensioning" as well. See Maggie, and I thought that you just made that stuff up!

Things are going along swimmingly and a good two thirds of the class has the garter stitch thing down pat. I think next week I'll bring the felted bag makings to the lesson and see if we get any bites. Once again, I should knit up some samples in my spare time. Maybe I'll do that as I watch the election results tonight....

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Vegan Fox in the Hand, is Worth Two in the....

Oh nevermind...behold "Weezie". (There was some debate amongst the girls about the fox's gender and whether or not a female could be called "Louis". Weezie was the preferred derivation of the feminine "Louise".)

This is the vegan fox that I made from Haley's kit! Isn't she a hoot? Very stylish. So stylish in fact, that Clare wanted to wear her to a "diva-themed birthday party" yesterday and neglected to bring her home. With luck, I will be able to locate and retrieve Weezie during the school week.

I'm working steadily on the free-form vest for me. It's great portable knitting cuz it's miles of 2 X 2 rib with very little shaping.

As well, I am going to knit my first ever pair of socks, magic loop style no less, for the Winter Knitting Olympics. Swiped a cool button. -------->

In other news, I'm steeling my nerves for tomorrow's Lunchtime Knitting Class. I have some extra help lined up (including one kind, non-knitter who will handle administrative snapping photos) so hopefully I will return with pictures for the blog!

Well, best get to bed, I'll need to be well rested for the siege tomorrow!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Another Finished Object- But Not By Moi!

Remember Deb and her phonecall to me about my pattern for the Looped Muff in Spun Magazine? She kindly provided me with a photo of her finished project. The lovely model and recipient of the finished muff is Monica, who despite her youth suffers from osteoarthritis. The OA, combined with the surgeries and splints necessary to strengthen her wrists make both mittens and gloves a very painful prospect.

Lucky for Monica, her resourceful friend Deb searched out better hand-warming options on the Internet, and came across Spun Magazine! Deb, a self-confessed beginning knitter, tackled the project, successfully integrating a few modifications (improvements) along the way and FINISHED BY CHRISTMAS! (How many of us old knitting biddies can say that!)

Hats off to you Deb!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


That's the only way, well, the only sort of positive way to describe the knitting class. There were a fair number of last-minute additions to our ranks, so the final number was closer to 30 than the original 24. That's a pretty big group for something like beginner's knitting!

Once we got everyone set up with their knitting kits, the lunch hour (actually more like 45 minutes what with eating time) just FLEW by. A good number of the kids have a little bit of experience with needles and we were able to disperse them amongst the non-knitters to help out. I'll have to round up some more adults to help next week. Sorry, no pictures of the class. I brought the camera and a spare battery, but things got crazy fast!

Next Monday, I'll put everyone in small groups of half a dozen or so and assign a "coach" to each group. Last time the "teachers" sort of "roamed" the group stopping for a minute or so to help each student who was looking perplexed. Once again, your positive knitting thoughts are requested.

In order to hold the interest of the more accomplished students, I'm considering starting a "felting" project with them, something simple like a pencil case or pouch-type bag. I have quite a bit of feltable yarn in a huge assortment of kid-friendly colours, so I may bring all my odds and bits in and let them create their own "self-striped" balls by tying together metre or two lengths. I probably should knit a sample this week huh?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

And For My Next Trick!

Teaching 24 Grade 3 and 4 students how to knit, over lunch hour! Taa-Daa!

I'm sure that this is possible. I've researched the topic, practiced on small groups of 8 year-olds, and yet I still have a strange sense of foreboding.

I'm reasonably well-prepared. About one quarter of the students have attempted knitting before as part of a classroom "knit an afghan for an animal shelter" project. The others are new to knitting and I have prepared starter kits for them. Over the summer, I squirrelled away "starter needles", shorter needles in a non-slippy plastic. Over the weekend, using a skein winder and a fancy-schmancy electonic kitchen scale, oldest daughter and I turned a 1000g ball of acrylic worsted into 25 forty gram starter skeins.



Being a mean mum who is overly concerned about the lack of "mathematics basics" in our schools, I made Ellery subtract 40 from each of the residual numbers on the scale until we were finished winding.

These skeins were used to produce 25 cast on stitches on each of the starter needles and packed up into tidy Zip-loc freezer bags for easy toting.

Tomorrow is the big day, I'll try to remember to bring my camera and post about it!

Oh, here is Ellery wearing her new bolero. I'm not completely sure about the fit, but it is being worn by a pre-teen with fidgetitis when it comes to her clothes. The sweater has already been stuffed under sofa cushions, used to lasso the sisters and stretched over her knees while lounging in front of the television. Maybe the fit issues aren't related to design or blocking technique.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Another Project on the Blocking Board

Note the attractive collection of winter snow/rain footwear stowed under the bench!

This is Ellery's Bolero jacket. It's inside out on the blocking board to smooth out a bit prior to seaming it. I'm not sure that the curves on the front will look even when the garment is finished, but I won't know for sure until it's seamed and Ellery can try it on. I may need to pull off the ribbing on the front edges and collar and try again.

I've cast on the vegan fox and it is really fun to knit on 10mm needles. (I've only got half of the tail pictures later)

My vest made from the stray Classic Elite Mackenzie yarn is evolving into another freeform project. That is, there are enough gauge, needle and stitch variations to render the pattern into a mere "serving suggestion". Still, I remain hopeful that I'll have a wearable garment. The yarn is knitting up fairly coarsely and I can't imagine Jenna coaxing this into her beautiful Rogue sweater, but she swears that she did and that the results were lovely.

Not much else to report except that the tooth fairy visited each of the girls in the space of less than a week. Hubby and I should budget for these emergencies!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Quick Snap...Cinxia, Fini!


Ignore me in the picture, in real life I'm much thinner, younger and cuter!!

Here is Cinxia, in it's finished state. I'm still not sure about the front closure, but I'll wear it around for a while before deciding if I want to add a border or frog closure at the neck.

Whoops, almost is Gillian's school picture. Now the set is complete!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Cinxia is off the needles!

That is practically a finished object, no? It needs a good blocking, so I'm holding off on the pictures for now. I'm still concerned about the curling along the front edge. If it doesn't block flat, I don't know what I'll do. Maybe a knitted edging would help, if I have enough scrap yarn. The jacket doesn't really call for a zipper, I've tried that previously to fix curly edges.

So, since I'm finished one project for me, I'm considering another...

I've been unusually cold this winter (strange for me, I can usually do without a winter coat on all but the very coldest days), so I think that I need to knit myself a vest. I have a bit of Classic Elite Mackenzie Tweed in a taupey tweed colour in my stash. Hopefully, I have enough for the vest, because the yarn is discontinued (of course).

I'm continuing to nibble away at Ellery's bolero and am just starting to cast on my Vegan Fox.

Lots to do for 2006!